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Sirens & Gavels

Posts tagged: extortion

Men accused of extorting grandmother

A 22-year-old Spokane man is accused of extorting his grandmother by conspiring with his friend to tell her he was being kidnapped for ransom, police say.

Tevan T. Williams and his alleged accomplice, Riley D. Hull, 22, were arrested Wednesday after Williams' grandmother said she'd received text messages from a stranger “saying Tevan was being held against his will and would not be released until she paid a ransom,” according to court documents.

The 61-year-old woman had been contacted at her north Spokane home on Monday by an unknown man who said Williams owed him money and he planned to rob the home if he didn't get his cash, police say.

The woman said she continued receiving text messages Wednesday saying her grandson would be killed if she didn't pay $500.

She agreed to meet the man at a restaurant near Francis Avenue and North Division Street. The woman and a relative contacted Spokane police, believing Williams “was possibly in grave danger,” police say.

Police traced the text messages to a phone belonging to Hull and arrested him and Williams near the planned meeting spot.

Hull and Williams each were ordered to stay in jail on $7,500 bond after appearing in Spokane County Superior Court Thursday on a first-degree extortion charge.

Crime Stoppers sought tips on jail inmate

Crime Stoppers offered a reward this week for information on a suspect who's already in jail on a U.S. Marshal's hold.

 Douglas Ray Mobley, 30, (left) is to be sentenced May 26 for extorting now former sheriff's Deputy Velven York, who worked at the Spokane County Jail.

A jury convicted Stephanie A. Strong of second-degree extortion last November. She's serving 55 months in prison. 

York alerted authorities to the extortion attempt last June after he was contacted by a caller threatening to disclose his improper off-duty contacts with Strong, a former inmate.

Police believe that caller was Mobley, who was dating Strong.

Sheriff’s policy prohibits employees from contacting criminal suspects when off duty. York had been giving Strong rides from a drug treatment program to a halfway house where she was living and meeting her while she was a jail inmate.

York (right) resigned from the sheriff's office in July, Sgt. Dave Reagan said today.

Strong and Mobley were arrested after they retrieved $5,000 York left for them in an undercover sting at Dick's Hamburgers.

Strong was under supervision for a federal mail theft and fraud conviction from 2007. Mobley was on federal probation for a gun conviction. He's in jail on a federal hold for that case, so prosecutors requested a bench warrant be issued to ensure his appearance at sentencing.

Crime Stoppers issued the reward offer Tuesday but rescinded it today. Still, it gave me a good opportunity to check up on the case.

Past coverage:

June 30: Convicts deny extortion plot against jailer

2nd bank extortion suspect arrested

The girlfriend of a man accused of a botched bank extortion has been arrested on a conspiracy to commit robbery charge. 

Cheryl A. Siekerman, 33, appeared in Spokane County Superior Court today via video from the jail, where she was booked Thursday.

She’s accused of helping Donnell L. Winston, who police say called Inland Northwest Bank, 518 W. Francis, on Oct. 14 and threatened to blow up five school if he didn’t receive $10,000.

Police say Winston asked for the money to be dropped off at 13th and Arthur - where his home is located. Police saw him talking on his cell phone on porch, then watched him retrieve a package dropped off by an undercover detective.

Winston, 37, was convicted of bank robbery in 2004 and was arrested the night of the incident on a probation violation and remains in jail. Police have recommended he be charged with attempted first-degree bank robbery, along with five bomb threat charges.

Bank extortion was like ‘a bad movie’

The request was clear: $10,000, or bombs would detonate at five Spokane elementary schools.

Police say that phone call to a north Spokane bank turned out to be nothing more than a poorly executed crime by a convicted bank robber who led detectives to his doorstep.

It’s like out of a bad movie,” said Officer Jennifer DeRuwe, Spokane Police Department spokeswoman. “The sad thing is we do have to treat it as real, because the reality is this stuff happens.”

Now police are recommending six felony charges against Donnell L. Winston, 37, for the Oct. 14 phone call to Inland Northwest Bank, 518 W. Francis Ave.

Read my full story here.

Extortion claim leads to $2,500, SWAT team

A 28-year-old Spokane man suspected of kidnapping and extortion remains in Kootenai County Jail after escaping a friend’s home during a SWAT standoff Thursday in Post Falls, only to be caught later.

Post Falls police responded to a house at 204 W. 17th Ave. just before noon Thursday, where Joshua M. Moses allegedly held and beat up Joshua M. Branam, 34, on Saturday, Post Falls police Chief Scot Haug said.

Police believe Branam, of Coeur d’Alene, owed Moses money, but the investigation is ongoing. Branam’s family paid Moses $2,500 for his release, Haug said.

The homeowner told officers as they toured the scene of the beating  that Moses was in the house, and that he had a gun. Officers called the SWAT team, but Moses sneaked out the back door, Haug said.

Police apprehended Moses around 6:30 p.m. at the Post Falls Club, a bar at 611 E. Seltice Way. A 15-year-old runaway also was arrested today in connection with the Saturday incident. Branam was arrested Wednesday on an outstanding warrant, Haug said.

Man accused of extorting boss after firing

A former employee at a Spokane landscaping company is accused of trying to extort money from his ex-boss.

Tony W. Jones, 31, was arrested Thursday in an undercover sting at a convenience store on East Francis Avenue in which the victim gave him $1,000 in marked bills as undercover detectives watched.

Jones was arrested after he took the cash, according to the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office.

His victim had called Crime Check this morning to say a recently fired employee “was threatening to cause him trouble with state business and financial agencies” if he didn’t get the cash by noon, according to the Sheriff’s Office.

Jones, who has a felony conviciton for drug dealing in 2007, was booked into jail on a second-degree extortion charge about 2:30 p.m. Investigators said he admitted to the crime.

Convicts deny extortion plot against jailer

Two federal convicts accused of trying to extort a Spokane County jailer told police they’d heard of the plan and were checking to see if the jailer was OK when they were arrested in a sting Monday. 

But investigators didn’t believe Stephanie A. Strong, 28, (left) or Douglas R. Mobley, 30, (top right) and the two appeared in Superior Court Tuesday on a second-degree extortion charge.

Jail deputy Velven “Jack” York, 47, (bottom right) remains on paid leave as the sheriff’s office investigates his relationship with Strong, who he said he met while she was an inmate a couple years ago.

When Strong was released from federal prison a couple months ago after serving time for fraud and mail theft, York began giving her rides from drug rehab to a halfway house where she and Mobley lived with other federal convicts, according to court documents. 

The sheriff’s office is investigating the extent of their relationship, said Sgt. Dave Reagan. Office policy prohibits employees from contacting criminal suspects while off-duty.

York received a phone call Sunday demanding $5,000 to keep his relationship with Strong a secret. He told detectives on Monday and they arranged an undercover rouse where York dropped an envelope of paper at downtown hamburger stand.

“York was concerned about getting in trouble at work, and for this incident going public,” according to court documents filed Tuesday in Superior Court.

Strong and Mobley were arrested when police say they went to retrieve the envelope.

 In court Tuesday, Strong’s aunt, Cathy Kersey, urged an investigation into York’s role in the situation.

Kersey said after court that Strong was released from prison a couple months ago and was doing “so well.”

“I can just hardly believe this,” Kersey said.

She said Strong was doing so well she’d been told she could leave the halfway house early. She was due out in August, Kersey said.

Strong told police she and Mobley are dating. The two work at Wal-Mart in Shadle Park. Strong’s bond was set Tuesday at $5,000. Mobley’s is at $10,000. They’re to be arraigned on July 13.

Past coverage:

June 28: Jailer on leave after extortion plot emerges

Jailer on leave after extortion plot emerges

Two people are in custody and a Spokane County Jail deputy is on paid administrative leave as authorities investigate his connections to an extortion plan allegedly hatched by a former inmate.

The deputy, Velven York, alerted authorities to the extortion attempt Sunday after he was contacted by a caller threatening to disclose his improper off-duty contacts with a former female inmate, identified as Stephanie A. Strong, according to the Sheriff’s Office.

The male caller told York he needed to pay $5,000 “if he did not want his activities with Strong made public,” Sgt. Dave Reagan said in a news release.

Sheriff’s policy prohibits employees from contacting criminal suspects when off duty. York had been giving Strong rides from a drug treatment program to a halfway house where she was living, Reagan said, adding that an internal investigation will examine the extent of the relationship.

The two first met while Strong was incarcerated at the jail.

York helped detectives develop a plan that led to the arrests Monday of Strong, 28; and Douglas Ray Mobley, 29.

Sheriff’s detectives and federal agents watched York leave $5,000 at Dick’s Hamburgers on East Third Avenue about 3:50 p.m. Monday, then arrested Strong and Mobley as they tried to retrieve the money.

York told detectives Strong called him several weeks ago and the two “began a chit-chat relationship of phone calls and text messages,” Reagan said.

About two weeks ago, Strong asked York for a ride from her drug treatment program back to a halfway house where she and Mobley lived.

“One ride turned into a series of rides,” Reagan said.

York told detectives about the rides when he told them of the extortion plot Sunday.

Strong is under supervision for a federal mail theft and fraud conviction from 2007. Mobley is on federal probation for a gun conviction. Both remain in jail on new charges of felony extortion.

York, who has worked with the sheriff’s office for about five years, was placed on paid leave Monday.

News story linked to robbery, extortion claim

A Spokane man is accused of threatening another man at gunpoint after he was refused service because of a newspaper article linking him to car theft, documents say.

Jon R. Fischer, 37, is in jail on first-degree robbery and first-degree extortion charges after a man who operates a car stereo installation business out of his home in the area of 4000 N. Cannon said Fischer stole his car at gunpoint and demanded money on April 21.

According to a probable cause affidavit, Fischer asked a man identified in documents as K. Aiken to install car stereo equipment, then became irate when Aiken told him to leave because he “recognized Fischer from a newspaper article as being involved with stolen vehicles and property.”

“You think you’re better than me?” Fischer said before returning wo hours later with a gun and demanding $5,000, according to the affidavit.

“Aiken was fearful for his safety and for the safety of his son,” the affidavit says. “He believed Fischer was high on drugs.”

Aiken gave Fischer his keys, then called friends and learned Fischer’s name and discovered his car was at the Lyon’s Crest apartments.

Police found it there and checked it for fingerprints. Aiken identified Fischer from a police montage.

Fischer was picked up on unrelated warrants about a week later and appeared on the robbery and extortion charges Friday. A felon with car theft convictions in at least five Washington counties, Fischer’s bond is at $50,000.

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